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Thread: Brothers' Bond (PG-13)

  1. #226
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Pittsburgh, PA


    Chapter 25

    The lobby chair had a comforting material that Sam couldn’t quite identify; it felt like a kind of faux-Linoone fur (at least, Sam hoped it was faux). It was so soft that, where it touched Sam’s skin, he couldn’t feel any particular strand of it—it just all blended into one wash of luxury against him. The chair coddled him and relaxed him and urged him to be one with it and to never leave it. But as he nervously glanced around the lobby of the Phoenix Shipping Corporation Building in Canalave City, Sam couldn’t help but worry that he was making a large mistake.

    If there was any plus at all, it was that the ferry ride to Canalave had been much less troubling than it had been previously. Sam’s mind was too overburdened with worry to care much for the tossing of the ship in the strait. Hours previously, he had sneaked out of Professor Rowan’s home in the middle of the night while the rest of the guests were sound asleep following the celebratory dinner. Leaving after everyone else dozed off—even Barry, who kept insisting everyone stay up to play board games—was easy enough when Sam knew that he couldn’t have fallen asleep himself even he had been drugged. After escaping the lab, it was an easy enough chore to call a cab that would take him to the ferry. Sam could not explain it, but the cab ride had simultaneously been both the longest and shortest rides of his life.

    His mind had never stopped going. The legends had somehow revived Tommy; they’d done what human science had repeatedly told him was out of their hands. And it was effortless! They had repaired body and mind and spirit with as little as a short visit. Was that fair? Sam wrestled with the question. There were people the world over who lived in pain or poverty or despair, and these guardians revived Tommy Stark solely because Sam had asked them. What about everyone else? Weren’t they entitled to that, as well? And if they were, that could only mean that Henrique Alonzo was on a righteous quest after all. He had seen for society what Sam had been too selfish to see for anyone but himself.

    He shifted his weight in the welcoming chair and pressed harder into his concerns. His previous encounters with Alonzo had been so alarming. He kidnapped Barry, for god’s sake! This were simply not the action of good man, was it? And yet, he had good reason to dislike Barry for all the thoughtless attacks on Phoenix property. It could have been more than dislike; he might have seen Barry as a legitimate threat to his own safety.

    Sam fidgeted again; the chair was luxurious, but the morning sunbeam striking the back of his head through the panel windows was not. The warmth was squeezing the sweat from his body. Or maybe he’d been sweating ever since he landed on Canalave…

    “Mr. Stark,” the receptionist called out from behind her desk. She was putting down the receiver of a phone he hadn’t even realized had rung. “Mr. Alonzo will see you now. He said he is sorry for the delay.”

    Sam nodded, finding his jaw muscles too belligerent to move. He stepped toward the elevator before being corrected by the secretary. “I’m sorry, not that way, Mr. Stark.” He turned, and she was motioning down a hallway to the right he hadn’t ventured down in any of his previous trips to the building. “He’s this way. It’s Large Conference Room Two. You’ll see it on your right. Thank you again for your patience.”

    Sam tilted his head and bobbed his eyebrows in agreement; it was just as well that Henrique had a new meeting area. Sam wasn’t sure he knew how to get the elevator to stop at platform nine and three-quarters or whatever it was, anyway.

    To the receptionist’s credit, he did see the meeting room right away; it was hard to miss, what with the walls being transparent glass. Sam tapped on one of the panes gently, and Mr. Alonzo waved him in. He swallowed and turned the nob.

    “Mr. Stark, this is quite a surprise. Please, have a seat. I’m sure you don’t mind these accommodations for this visit? After our last… talk, I was thinking perhaps something a bit more open and visible would be best for… well, for all of us.”

    Sam found himself embarrassed at the implication that he posed a threat to Mr. Alonzo if they met in more secluded quarters. He pulled out a chair so he could take a seat at the oval desk and wished that his jaw would release so that he could explain himself.

    He was caught off-guard by the sight of someone else in the room; Sam had been so focused on Mr. Alonzo that he hadn’t taken a more studied look around, but to Mr. Alonzo’s left sat another gentleman who seemed much more interested in his own thick, purple book than Sam and Henrique. The man was not looking up for Sam to get much of a look at him, but he had long arms that seemed as though they were rather large under his blazer, and his hair was a curiously blue shade of gray, not unlike a young, female Nidoran.

    “When we last met, Mr. Stark, I told you I would introduce you to someone. This is my brother, Mr. Mentené.”

    Sam nodded as he found his voice. “Nice to meet… you?” His attention turned back to Mr. Alonzo even as Mr. Mentené waved lazily in reply, “Your brother has a different name than you?”

    Henrique’s head sank slightly. “My brother and I have only his mother and my father in common, I am afraid. We were not raised together; his mother… ‘knew’ my father while vacationing in Hoenn. We would see each other infrequently at best as we grew up in separate regions. I’m sure you can understand how hard it all was for my mother. On odd summers, I would get to visit him; on even ones, he would visit us. It was…,” his voice quieted, “I’m sure my family’s dysfunction doesn’t interest you. He’s part of—he’s the reason I’m so well-versed in Sinnohan culture.”

    Sam noticed Mr. Mentené nodding in agreement at Henrique’s words, but still not looking up from his book. “Does he… is he mute or something?”

    Mr. Mentené shot him a side-eye look from his book, but Mr. Alonzo responded quickly. “No, Mr. Stark. He’s just very studious. And perhaps,” Henrique curled one side of his mouth and looked towards his brother, “a bit impolite.”

    Sam shrugged in agreement, and Mr. Alonzo changed the subject, “You didn’t seem very interested in speaking to me again previously, Sam. What brings you here today?”

    Sam rolled his eyes, hoping he was discreet in doing so; for what felt to him like the fiftieth time since arriving in Sinnoh, he was about to admit to someone else that he was wrong about something. It seemed like the kind of thing that should have gotten easier, but if anything, he was finding the opposite to be true; he really didn’t want to have to tell Mr. Alonzo he regretted their last interaction. His jaw gave him just a bit of leeway, and Sam found himself telling Henrique all about the last few days. He told him about Tommy’s visit to the prison and the revelation that the legends had gone to heal Tommy following the confrontation in Celestic Town. He found himself admitting aloud a thought he had not even consciously been aware of previously: that if not for Henrique directing him to Celestic Town, Sam might never have met with the pokemon that would go on to cure Tommy. As Mr. Alonzo, his chin resting on his knuckles, studied Sam, the latter stated the realization he had come to around the dinner table at Rowan’s lab.

    There was silence between them all, and by the end of Sam’s tale of his last few days, even Mr. Mentené was watching Sam. Sam tried to grin harmlessly at him, but he found Mr. Mentené’s gaze to be too disconcerting and settled for simply looking back at Henrique. He steeled himself for the gloating he was sure to come.

    “Mr. Stark, I had no idea. I am…,” he paused and wrinkled the bridge of his nose before continuing, “positively thrilled for you that your brother has been returned. That is… there are no words I could express that would be fair to what you are—what you must be feeling. This is the best news I’ve heard all day.”

    “I… yeah, it’s, you know. Good. Thanks?” Sam was taken aback by Mr. Alonzo’s words, and his reaction to them was unprepared.

    “To think that I had some role, even a small one—even a coincidental one—in helping return your brother to you. That is—wow. I’m happy for you beyond words, Samuel.”

    “Yeah, it’s pretty happy times all around,” Sam replied, even though his heart wasn’t in it. Of course he was happy that Tommy was back—he didn’t need this guy telling him to be—but Sam had almost wanted Mr. Alonzo was lord the realization over him. He wanted the President of the Phoenix Corporation to have his big “ah ha!” moment and to scold Sam for ever doubting him. He wanted him to be an absolute jerk about it and try to try to force Sam to thank him for taking him to the legends.

    He wanted Mr. Alonzo, now that Sam was struggling with everything he thought he knew about him since he met the man, to remind him of why he once despised him.

    Instead, the man was beaming with more joy than if Tommy had been his own. He pushed out from the desk and up to his feet. “You’ll have to excuse me; I’ve got to alert Nicole at the front desk. We must have a drink! A fine… white wine, I assume? Of course. Something memorable.”

    “I don’t—no, that’s not… come on,” Sam jumped to his feet, as well. At that point, Mr. Alonzo was simply embarrassing him and in danger of missing his point. “I don’t want any of that. I didn’t come here to drink your wine, Mr. Alonzo. I didn’t come for some ‘I have a brother, and you have a brother, everybody gets a brother’ kind of thing. I just came to tell you…”

    Sam sighed as Mr. Alonzo stopped short of the door of Large Conference Room Two. Sam lifted his head to look the man in the eye.

    “You’re a dick. Like, I’m pretty sure you’re a huge dick. I mean, you kidnapped Barry which was just inexcusable. And, oh yeah, you somehow knew that Veilstone was going to be attacked before it was, which is really damn creepy—“

    “In my position, I am privy to quite a bit on inf—“

    Sam shook his head to stop him. “Seriously? I believe, like, ten percent of the words that come out of your mouth, man. I don’t want to know how you knew about it, and I wouldn’t believe you if you told me, anyway.” Sam rolled his tongue around in his mouth. Telling Mr. Alonzo off was fun, but it was just the easy part. The words to come next were bringing up bile with them as they plodded to his mouth. “But whatever your whole little shtick is, you were right about what legendary pokemon are capable of. And that’s—that is huge. Maybe the biggest thing that’s ever happened. Anywhere. This changes lives.”

    “Sam, I—“

    “I am really not done telling you how great you are, and that’s really disgusting for me, so can you just keep yourself shut up for a little bit so I can just… ugh. Just get through this?”

    Mr. Alonzo stood stoic for a moment, but then he nodded. Sam continued, “I don’t have anything left to offer you. I’m not going on TV to be some tool for you to sell out my brother and tell his story, okay? I’m not going to be your salesman. But you were right, and now this is a thing. The Jirachi’s out of the bottle. So yeah, I don’t have anything left that you might find helpful, but I want in. For a year, I shit on everything and everyone around me that wasn’t Tommy, and I acted like the only thing that mattered was getting him back. Well now he’s back, and you know how I feel? Awful. Guilty. Because now it’s more a ‘big picture’ kind of thing. Why me? An unconscionable number of people in this world are sick or hurt or dying or missing loved ones, and the guardians chose to fix up my problems? Just because I was a big enough ass to look for them and try to make them? I’m sure you in your ‘I do what I want, when I want because I’m Mr. frickin’ Alonzo’ world don’t get this, but I don’t want that on my head. If Tommy can be healed, then so can somebody else. Anybody else. Everybody else, I don’t know.”

    There was silence between the two of them. From behind him, Sam heard Mr. Mentené turn another page in his book as he waited for Mr. Alonzo. Sam had done it, he had said what he’d come to say, and he’d done it all without throwing up over it. Whatever was next, it was all Henrique’s.

    “I’m sorry, I was really just focusing on the part about my being a dick. Could you repeat the rest of it?”

    Sam heaved his shoulders; that was the Mr. Alonzo he expected when he had arrived. “That’s it, I’m leaving.”

    Alonzo set a calm hand on Sam’s shoulders, “Please don’t, I was just joking, of course. I thought you could use the levity; you’re taking a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, Mr. Stark. You needn’t feel so burdened. There’s nothing wrong with allowing yourself to be happy.”

    “I am happy,” Sam said quietly.

    “Are you?”

    Sam stepped back. “Yeah, okay Doctor Super Shrink, I’m happy. I’m happy! Of course I’m happy! My brother’s back, and I’m going to go save the world, don’t you remember? I’m the happiest person ever! Just… full-on rainbow happy!” He found at the end that he had raised his voice more than he had intended. His muscles were very tight again.

    “Of course.”

    From behind Sam, there was the clearing of a throat. “You know, he could be—he could do it. The legends seem to favor him. They have a rapport with him.”

    “S—Mr. Mentené, what are you saying?”

    Sam turned to Mr. Alonzo’s brother, who had set his book down on the desk and was looking up at them now. The smile stuck to Mr. Mentené’s pale face reminded Sam of a Halloween mask he had worn once as a child; it was the first year his father let him dress up as something scary rather than as a pokemon or cartoon character. Sam chased the memory away to focus on the moment.

    “I’m saying he should come with us. He’s our best shot at contact.”

    Sam’s head ping-ponged back-and-forth between Henrique and his brother. “Come with you where? What’s happening? Where are you going?”

    Mr. Mentené flipped his book back open and held out a page for Sam to see; Sam looked at it and saw a massive mountain ascending into a ceiling of clouds.

    “Mount Coronet.”
    Last edited by Sid87; 5th March 2014 at 9:03 PM.

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  2. #227
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Between Nod and Terrafirma


    After a long absence, it returns!

    I have to admit, I kind of forgot what was happening before, but this chapter helped remind me and now I'm curious as to what they need Sam, besides the connection he has.

    Hmm, I would mention other things, but not much else happened. I guess, what is Mentene's role in all this? I assume we will find out later.

    Looking forward to another chapter, Sid. Hopefully it will take less time xD

    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.

  3. #228
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    The internet is my tree.


    Well, huh. That is a neat twist.

    At least, it is if I'm reading it right, and having gone back to skim the previous chapters to remind myself of details and foreshadowing that I'd forgotten about, I'm pretty sure I'm reading this right. Mr. Mentené is Cyrus, isn't he?

    And that's pretty cool in terms of where this story must be headed as a result. There's going to be some nice dramatic irony in the fact that readers who've played the Sinnoh Pokémon games know what a bad thing Sam's got himself into while Sam himself remains blissfully unaware of the problem. Presumably somewhere along the road Sam's going to realise what a mistake he's made, which should lead to even more conflict and confusion from him, and that's after he was already conflicted enough about agreeing with Mr. Alonzo in the first place. (Though, interestingly, it really does seem like Mr. Alonzo was being genuinely kind and happy for Sam there, given that Sam didn't detect any hidden malice even when he wanted to think the worst of the man. I guess Henrique is just the kind of person who'd do anything for his brother even if said brother happens to be a psychotic nutcase?) Also I'm sure that at some point in all this Barry will get involved, and while he's usually all happy-go-lucky on the surface, it's been clear that beneath that he harbours some real fury at the man responsible for his parents' deaths. So that has to come to a head here, which is another exciting prospect. All of this makes me very eager for the final few chapters of this fic.

    But it's also really neat because it gives me this sudden, dawning realisation that this story is actually about so much more than I thought it was. It's not just a story about one man's desperation to save his brother, incidentally involving legendary Pokémon. It's an alternate version of the Sinnoh games' main plot, altered so that two brothers from Johto play a major role. Sam's quest to save Tommy which we thought was all this fic had to offer (which would have been perfectly enough for an enjoyable story in and of itself, mind) is actually, in this fic's universe, the catalyst that will allow Cyrus to get hold of the lake trio and kick off his plans atop Mount Coronet! That's really unexpected, and really, really neat.

    Having then felt compelled to, as I said, reskim older chapters to remind myself of details I'd forgotten, I realise that I probably should have expected this in some form, really. There was enough mention of the "Church of Cyrus", after all. I guess what my problem was is that I assumed all of the shenanigans atop Mount Coronet with Dialga and Palkia had indeed happened and been thwarted as part of that backstory too, and Rowan just hadn't bothered to go into the details. I thought you were just using the games' plot to provide backstory to both give Barry character depth and give a reason for why the trio would be so hard for Sam to find. The possibility that this story actually is essentially the games' plot never crossed my mind.

    I have to ask - did you have this planned from the beginning? Reading back, that seems possible, given that there were hints from fairly early on. Even the fic's title I now realise could have been referring not just to Sam and Tommy but also to another pair of brothers, all along. If so, then I'm impressed with the way you chose to tell this story; I feel it's somehow more effective than having it shoved in our faces from the beginning that this is about Cyrus's plot. And even if not, I'm still impressed with how you managed to make it seem like you had it planned this way the whole time.

    The rest of this chapter was pretty great too, by the way. I enjoyed Sam's conflict between wanting to see Mr. Alonzo as the bad guy and being forced to admit he might be kind of a good person. And his outburst that had him admit how selfish he'd been and how guilty he felt about that was wonderful. Yay for interestingly messed-up protagonists!

    (also, hi!, yes, I'm still reading. I have to say I was a little sad when I read that you were going to discontinue the story - if not quite as much as I might have been, since by that point Tommy was back, which is what we'd all been rooting for, so at least there was some sense of closure. But now after this most recent chapter it's become apparent that this story is about a lot more than just Sam Stark saving his brother, so I'm happy that we will get to see it through after all and am totally okay with longer gaps between updates if that's what it takes. The only reason an author should ever have for abandoning a fic is that they have genuinely lost interest in writing it; seeing as that was not the case, I'm glad you changed your mind and decided to continue, for your sake as well as from my invested-reader standpoint. No author should feel they have to give up on writing a story they truly love and want to finish. Keep going! I'm looking forward to the rest!)
    .: Evolution is a battle .:. Something has to lose :.
    Chapter 33: Inside has been posted.

    Foregone Conclusion
    Spinoff/prequel/backstory/thingy to Lost Evolution, written for NaNoWriMo 2010

    Three Heads Are Better Than One

  4. #229
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Pittsburgh, PA


    Chapter 26

    Sam cursed in the deepest, throatiest voice he could push from himself. Not just at the wind that was ripping through his body and shearing his soul with its cold, and not just at the snow that was falling faster, harder, and more violently as it began sticking to his face and clothes rather than selflessly melting away. No, he was cursing the entirety of Mount Coronet.

    He plodded through yet another patch of the dead, frozen thicket that seemed to cover the exterior of the mountain in bitter spite of the fact that no vegetation should possibly be able to survive the year-round ice and wind storms that swept the top half of the ridge. He felt the gnarled thorns grabbing for his legs as he tried to pass through and tearing into his snowsuit, and he cursed again; it was like the lifeless plants were put there by a brutal god just to hinder him. As he leaned down to give the plants his full shouted opinion of what they could do with their own mother, he heard a throaty laugh from behind him.

    “It is not so easy, is it?” The laugh mocked him. “I was be told that you thought we could just ride an helicopter to the peak. You see now why that is not so possible?”

    The anger at Sideburns’ snark burst inside Sam, and he let out an animalistic scream as he pried his leg free from the briar. He stumbled forward, having lost all balance as he yanked himself loose at the cost of the fabric of his pants, and ate a faceful of snow for his trouble. With the snow and ice surrounding and quickly bonding to his head, he could not hear what he was sure would be laughter from Carlos and his crew.

    Sam threw up his hands and shouted to make sure Carlos could hear him over the shrieking wind. “You’re so clever and know so much about mountaineering? You find this damn cave entrance! Maybe I’ll sit back and judge the lot of you for a while!”

    Carlos merely shook his head and motioned for his men to follow him past Sam. “Yes, it is such different from usual,” he said as he moved by him. Sam could not see his sideburned face what with Carlos’ large goggles and snow-mask, but he was sure that Carlos was smirking. Sam felt his nose wrinkle in rage, but pushed the anger back down. After they found the alleged cave that wound around the interior of the mountain, things would hopefully be easier.

    Sam plopped down onto his bottom in his water-resistant gear and watched the crew survey the mountain terrain for the entrance to Coronet. It suddenly struck him as humorous that he once found Celestic Town to seem like such a journey. Compared to where they were, Celestic Town may as well have been a sea level metropolis. Sam and the Phoenix workers had driven as far up the mountainside as they could before the conditions made further travel by vehicle impossible. Since then, they had been desperately searching for an entrance to the mountain’s labyrinth-esque cave system. It might not have been ideal to go spelunking in an undiscovered system, but it could not possibly have been a worse option than trying to scale the exterior of the mountain when none of them had the experience or talent for that.

    He took a glance in the direction from which they had come and was depressed to see that the snow and ice had already covered up any tracks they may have made. It was like their very presence there was a fading dream, and if they froze to death before they found the mythical entrance, their bodies would be vanished under the white cover within an hour. Sam doubted anyone would ever find them or even know they had ever been there. Beyond that sobering thought, Sam also found himself concerned for the convoy carrying Mr. Alonzo and Mr. Mentené; they were traveling separately, a few hours behind Sam’s group, so that they could be alerted to anything unusual. Sam found himself quite enamored of the idea of a secondary “safety group”, but he was dismayed to find that Mr. Mentené wanted him on the lead. In the event that the frontrunner group encountered any legendary pokemon, he argued, it was wise to have Sam and his rapport with such creatures there. What Alonzo and Mentené saw as a rapport that Sam had formed with the lake guardians, Sam felt was only dumb luck and desperation, but still… it was enough to have him placed in what Sam referred to as the “Hey-go-see-if-we’re-all-going-to-die” group. With Sideburns. Of course.

    Of course, the odds that Sam’s supposed rapport with the lake guardians would help him on this mountain were slim considering—

    “Carlos, es justo aquí. Lo he encontrado!”

    Sam was shaken from his thoughts and perked up at the excitement in the voice of the worker he believed was called Esteban. He didn’t know what the man was saying, but Esteban was eager for Sideburns to hear it.

    “What? What’d he say?”

    Carlos turned. “He saying he found the entrance!”

    Sam clasped his hands and snorted frozen snot from his nostrils. “Thank god. It’s about time we get out of this frozen hellscape. What are we waiting on?”

    Carlos nodded and rushed over to Esteban; for the first time, he and Sam seemed to be on the same page, even if all that the page read was “I don’t want to die next to this idiot”. Sam tried to run up to join the two men as the other employees converged on Esteban, and he was reminded of how much he loathed the snow. He felt as though he were trying to hurry with suction cups attached to his feet; the knee-deep snow refused to let him move with as much agility as he would like. As he finally approached, he no longer even needed an explanation for why the men weren’t rushing into the alleged safety of the cave; the entrance was frozen over with a sheet of ice. Sam tapped the nature-made seal; it had to be several feet thick.

    “If it’s not one thing, it’s ten others,” he muttered to himself.

    “No worries,” Carlos said, his voice uplifted. He held out his pokeball and gave it a squeeze through his glove. A burst of energized radiance gave birth to his Hariyama who let out a cry of joy at being freed. Carlos pointed to the wall of ice and gave an order in Hoennese. Sam saw Hariyama take a fighting stance and nearly choked on his own horror.

    “No! No! No! Please stop!”

    His plea came too late, and Hariyama thrust its arm forward in a flash; it collided with the ice wall leaving it cracked, but intact. The rotund pokemon reared back for another shot.

    “Do not let him do that again!” Sam cried. He seemed to catch Carlos’ attention that time, and the Phoenix worker barked an order for Hariyama to stop.

    “What? We are getting through.”

    Sam slapped his head with his gloved palm. “We are on a mountain covered in snow and ice with who-knows-how-much-more mountain of snow and ice above us, and your plan is what? To attack the mountain? Because—“

    A rumbling sound built overhead, and Sam paused long enough to look upward along with the rest of the workers. The rumbling was growing louder, and with it, the entire mountainside seemed to shake.

    “Oh, Ferrothorn me right up my ass,” Sam gasped. Hariyama’s heavy shot wasn’t enough to burst through the icewall in one shot, but it was enough to knock loose snow and rock and ice hundreds of feet above them all. Snow and rock and ice that would soon be collapsing down on them if they didn’t get into the cave right away.

    With no wasted flourish of movement, Sam released Vlam from her ball. She was always the most intuitive pokemon Sam had ever known, and she hit the snowy ground with an immediate sense of dread.

    “Yeah, it sucks out here, baby. I need you to fire blast that ice now! And you,” Sam spit out in half of a breath. He turned to Carlos and his Hariyama who were busy trying to calm the other workers, who themselves seemed on the verge of desperate panic. “Plans changed after all! Beat the shit out of the mountain!”

    It was impossible to drown out the shouting and crying from the workers who were beginning to lose their footing as the mountain shook beneath them. Sam could not understand them, but he was sure they either calling out to their god or alerting each other to the avalanche they all knew was coming. The rumbling was almost on top of them when Vlam exhausted her warmth into a concentrated ball of flame. As her attack hit the ice, so did Hariyama’s second shot. The ice collapsed into a shattered puddle, and Sam and the workers dove inside. They rushed and crawled on unstable hands and knees to get as far back from the entrance as possible as untold tons of ice and rock buried the mouth of the cave. The sound of the avalanche deafened them as it reverberated off the stone walls, and it was all Sam could do to cover his head and ride it out. Seconds that felt like hours passed, and it finally ceased.

    When he uncovered his head and opened his eyes, he saw that several of the workers had already released their fire- and electric-based pokemon in an attempt to illuminate the mountain. A flaming Magcargo was wondering down the corridor before them, while a glowing Pikachu stood closer to the entrance. Carlos’ Hariyama stood up to reveal that it had thrown itself on top of its trainer to protect him, and Sam found himself amused that being tackled by such a massive creature could be for the best.

    “Vlam, can you help them light this place up, please?” He started looking around after the request, but no extra light seemed to come. “Vlam, I know you just used a lot of energy, but we could use it just until we get our bearings, okay?” Moments passed, but there was no response.

    “Vlam?” Sam’s eyes darted across the Phoenix workers to find her. She had to be there; she had to just be tired…

    His eyes came to rest on the collapsed cave entrance. Unless she wasn’t.


    Tons of ice and rocks…


    A growing blizzard outside…


    And no one else coming that way for hours…


    Sam threw himself at the caved-in hole and clawed at it with both hands. When he felt like the gloves were impeding his progress, he tore them off and pitched them aside; he did not care if the jagged rocks or frigid snow wore his fingers away. He continued trying to rip his way through the freezing rock even as it took seven Phoenix workers to pull him away. He growled and screamed at them to let him go, but they weren’t listening. He threw elbows at them and shook his legs to get free before they finally put him in the unbreakable grip of Hariyama.


    “Lemme go!”

    “Sam, calming down!”

    “She’s out there!”

    Carlos grabbed Sam’s coat collar and yelled into his face. “I know! We all is know! She saving us all by getting us in here! No one of us wants her out there! But this is not stable here! We have to keep going!”

    Sam struggled like an infant in the powerful grasp of Carlos’ pokemon. “Fine! Go! I have to get out there and find her! Just leave me then!”

    Carlos’ mouth trembled. “I am sorry. She saving my life, too. But even if we can get out there, we will died. Okay? I’m trying save your life. Just like Vlam did. The mountain is still unstable.”

    Sam stared at the pile of rocks and ice. He knew he could get through it—Chispa could help blast it away with her electricity—but if he did that, he would be putting everyone with him at risk. It would be possibly all of their lives for Vlam’s. Sam continued staring at the wall as if he were willing himself to see through it. He bowed his head as the situation soaked through his waterproof coat and into his bones. Hariyama, sensing Sam’s turn in emotion, relaxed his grip.

    “Are we going now?”

    Sam looked back up at the barrier. “Yeah, I—damn it.” He scratched at his face with his freezing hand. “God, I—yeah, we’re… let’s go.”

    The Phoenix crew began gathering everything they had dropped as they threw themselves into the safety of the cavern. The ones that had not done so already began releasing their pokemon to help protect against whatever the system might throw at them. Sam stood still and continued studying the rocks for movement, as if his brother’s Ninetales as going to just push through and wag her tails at him. Vlam’s hollow Dusk Ball was brick in his hand.

    Sam took up the rear of the group as they ventured into the caverns. The workers spoke quietly amongst themselves as they journeyed deeper into the darkness, but none of them—even Carlos—made any attempt to speak to him. Not that Sam was making any efforts of his own; he was happy to trail several feet behind the rest of the group and think about having left Rowan’s home under the cover of night to make a visit to Henrique Alonzo. From there, he agreed to join their expedition to Mount Coronet in search of the legendary pokemon of Sinnoh. He joined the first wave group with Carlos and his crew. He released Vlam to help the Hariyama bust through the ice. One decision after another, and they replayed in his mind as the minutes and meters of jagged path cruised by him.

    He was shaken from his recollection of recent days by the sounds of conflict ahead of him. It hadn’t been unexpected—there were sure to be wild pokemon inside the mountain who weren’t used to the presence of humans—but the men began yelling frantically to one another, and the once-hypnotic bouncing of light off of the stone walls became more rapid and violent. Suddenly the group of whom Sam was trailing so far behind was bustling back toward him.

    As they rushed to where Sam was, one of the workers that Sam was not familiar with yelled something to him, but Sam could not decipher it. The man seemed unconcerned with Sam’s lack of understanding and continued pressing past him. Then another did the same. Sam finally saw Carlos coming upon him amidst the fleeing group.

    “What is going on?” Sam called.

    “Too many!” Carlos seemed flustered by what he had seen, and was unable to get much else out in Kantoan at first. “Can’t get through them! Turned back!”

    At Carlos’ words, Sam saw an enormous shape bowling through the air. Lifeless limbs dangled out from the ball of humanity, and Saw recognized it as the unconscious form of Carlos’ Hariyama. Something very powerful was able to not only beat it so badly, but to fling it back at the group. The defeated pokemon vanished in a flash of energy.

    Carlos, holding Hariyama’s ball, grabbed Sam’s shoulder with a squeeze of desperation as the rest of the Phoenix workers poured past them. “Going! We must to be!”

    Sam’s legs initially turned to flee with him, but something in his mind fought the urge. If they backed out now—if they gave up on this path—what Vlam went through would have been for nothing. A fire ignited in his core, and he knew he wouldn’t abide that. Better to die fighting for what she gave them than to have it be so meaningless. He turned square to the cavern they had been heading into and braced himself, Chispa’s ball rolling in his hand. From the darkness of the cave erupted a Golbat, its tongue wagging greedily. Then another. Then two more behind that one. Behind the pair came a trio of large Machoke, their vicious grunts echoing off of each wall, back-and-forth, creating the sound of an army. Sam kept expecting the parade to end, but it seemed infinite; a stream of Golbats and Machokes who had come to live in symbiosis in the caverns poured from the shadows. Sam still couldn’t make out the end of the train of predators when the first Golbats were just yards from him.

    He squeezed Chispa’s ball, and she appeared just a few feet in front of him. For a moment, Sam was startled by her; he had almost forgotten she evolved in the scrimmage against Miah. As a Luxio, she stood almost twice as tall as she had been as a Shinx cub, and her growing coat glowed with electrical energy. She sniffed the air upon her arrival and immediately became aware of the threat.

    Sam stared at her as the threat bore down and watched her lower her head and raise her rear. He thought again of Vlam.

    “Discharge your energy, Chispa! All of it!”

    His Luxio’s black-and-blue coat flashed brilliant white energy that consumed the cave in its iridescence. Bone-shaking cracks of electrical energy reverberated off of the cave’s walls, and Chispa’s loosed her attack in every direction around her. Sam was unable to even inspect his friend’s damage; the light was far too potent for him to do more than seal his eyelids and guard his face with his arms.

    Chispa squealed in fun, and the booms of energy intensified. The attack went on and on, and she sounded absurdly pleased with herself over it. Below her singing along with her attack, Sam could hear the wails and screams of the onslaught of both bat and buff pokemon.

    The sounds of the attack faded, and Chispa yelped to let Sam know what she had done. When his eyes adjusted, he was amazed at the sight of dozens of felled predators, some with very visible burns covering their bodies. The few that were conscious enough to move were pulling themselves backwards into the safety of the cave’s darkness. Chispa turned to Sam and mewed to alert him; he was almost too stunned to reply.

    “No, Chis. It’s, ah… it’s okay. You’ve done enough. You really, really have.”

    “Are you okay?”

    Sam jumped at the words before recognizing the voice as Carlos’. He nodded. “Yeah, I just wasn’t expecting… you know… that much. I was just thinking we could scare them off. I was--”

    His thought was interrupted by a charging Machoke who had somehow evaded Chispa’s attack. Whether in desperation or fear or anger, it seemed to have become reckless and single-minded; it grabbed Chispa by the throat, heaved it up to its own level, and slammed her back against the cavern wall.

    “Chispa!” Sam cried. He instinctively took a step forward to protect his friend, but the Machoke turned its head to him and let out loud growl that shook his body and pushed him backwards. It narrowed its eyes, and its lips quivered in hate at him while it maintained its stranglehold on Chispa. It growled lowly, pulled the Luxio back to itself slowly, and then thrust it again into the rock. Chispa choked a whimper, but was apparently unable to defend herself. Sam knew that the massive attack had let out everything she had.

    He fumbled for Bree’s Net Ball in his pocket, but the cruel combination of his panic and his still-cold hands made it hard to get a grip while he watched the muscle-bound warrior pokemon squeeze the life from his friend. His thoughts rushed by, too fast for him to make any sense of…

    From behind him, a large metallic lizard sped forward. Sam caught enough of a sight of it to recognize it as the Lairon that had tried to attack him on the ship to Snowpoint. It rammed its iron head into Machoke’s knee, buckling the predator and freeing Chispa from its grip. For all her previous bravery against the horde of cave pokemon, Chispa limped quickly to hide behind Sam. He was more than happy to put his body in front of her as he finally managed to pull Bree’s ball from his pocket.

    The Lairon’s initial success against Machoke was short-lived, and the latter soon had the worker’s pokemon pinned to the ground with its great strength. The Lairon struggled and squirmed in its grasp, but the Machoke’s clubbing blows were taking their toll on its dense exterior. The worker’s Lairon had put itself in danger to save Chispa, and Sam knew he wouldn’t allow it to suffer for that. A terse squeeze on her ball freed Bree.

    “Get that Machoke, baby, okay? Help out that steel type for me.”

    Bree nodded and buzzed cheerfully, as undaunted as ever. She zipped through the distance between them and began buzzing in circles around the Machoke’s head. It swatted the air, but Sam’s butterfly pokemon was much too quick for it. With the distraction giving it a chance to pull free, the Lairon went back on the attack; it lunged forward and bit down hard on Machoke’s calf. The cave pokemon screeched and dropped its chasing of Bree, giving her the opening she needed to land on the base of its skull. Her wings spread out and her antennae stiffened in a sharp psychic attack. The Machoke wobbled, smacked the wall in agony with a flailing fist, and toppled forward onto its face, at last defeated.

    Bree flittered back to him, chirping with great pride. After rubbing her head, Sam leaned down to examine Chispa. He squeezed each of her paws in succession and poked around her ribcage; she was shaken, but there didn’t seem to be any serious injury.

    Carlos leaned down next to him. “How did you knowing she would not hurt you, too?”

    Sam tilted his head at the question; it wasn’t something he had thought much off, and then something on the cave wall caught his eye. What used to be dull gray and brown rock was now covered in soot and charred black. He turned to the opposite wall and saw more streaks of black burning lining the walls. He glanced down and saw that most of the ground around where Chispa had stood was burnt and letting out wisps of smoke. The black char ended just a few inches from his feet.

    His eyes darted back to Chispa, who was stiffly walking in circles before finally settling on a spot to lie down. She tucked her face under her glowing tail.

    “Oh wow. I, uh,” Sam turned back to Carlos and gave a half-shrug amidst the smoking rocks. “I guess I didn’t?”
    Last edited by Sid87; 25th June 2014 at 8:29 PM.

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  5. #230
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Between Nod and Terrafirma


    Well that's cruel-ish, separating Vlam from Sam, I hope she's not actually dead and able to have escaped the avalanche to be found by the "safety" group later.

    Sorry I haven't replied, been busy with other things.

    Looking forward to how they navigate coronet now, so, keep up the good work.

    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.

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